I've been out of town for a week and only got home late today, so this will be hasty, just a few notes on things I've read here and there over the past couple of weeks.
I've managed to avoid reading most of the reaction to that weird "ecumenism of hate" piece by Fr. Antonio Spadaro and Marcelo Figueroa. But I did see a rather telling remark from him reacting to the reaction:
The reaction of the "haters" seems a clear sign that our article is telling the truth about the "ecumenism of hate".
That strikes me, first, as astonishingly juvenile, and, secondly, pretty much of a piece with the original article in its clarity of thought. If someone accuses Fr. Spadaro of being a bad priest, and he reacts angrily, does that prove the accusation? I read somewhere that he has written about Flannery O'Connor. I wonder what he said. I suppose he may have gotten the theology right but it's hard to believe that he understood the culture. Did he take Francis Tarwater to be a typical evangelical?
One reaction that I did read was from Matthew Schmitz in The Catholic Herald, and he says something that struck me as possibly being the key not only to this little teapot-tempest but to an important aspect of what Pope Francis is doing and hopes to achieve. These two remarks, distant from each other in the article, are the nub of it:
[The article] is an attempt to defend the liberal order against what is perceived, rightly or wrongly, as an existential threat.
Pope Francis and his advisers believe the Church must defend the system of open borders and celebratory diversity exemplified by liberal Europe.
You need to read the whole piece--it's not very long--to establish the context and flesh out what Schmitz means. It is at least in part a conjecture about a new Catholic order. Since sometime in the 19th century (at least), the Vatican and the Church at large have been trying to figure out what the place of the Church in the modern world can and should be. In a nutshell (if I'm not misreading him), Schmitz proposes that Francis and his allies are attempting to establish a relationship between the Church and the secular liberal state similar to the one it once had with the old order in Europe. It's a fascinating thesis, and if true would explain a lot.
I just skimmed the original piece again. What a dog's breakfast it is. It's not completely wrong, nor its concerns unwarranted, by any means. It's just a mess.
It's not all that often that I read George Will. I saw a link to this piece somewhere and followed the link purely because the title was intriguing: "Trump Is Something the Nation Did Not Know It Needed."
Furthermore, today’s president is doing invaluable damage to Americans’ infantilizing assumption that the presidency magically envelops its occupant with a nimbus of seriousness....
Fastidious people who worry that the president’s West Virginia and Ohio performances — the alpha male as crybaby — diminished the presidency are missing the point, which is: For now, worse is better. Diminution drains this office of the sacerdotal pomposities that have encrusted it.
We very badly need to rein in the power, pomp, and circumstance of the presidency. He is not a king (nor will she be a queen, when that finally happens). Part of the reason that our factions consider it a matter of life and death to get one of their own in the office is the unconscious belief that he is. I often think that some form of monarchy really is most natural to mankind. Many Americans seem to want to revert to it.
In a comment on a recent album of the week, Don linked to NPR's list of The 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women. It's an interesting list, if you find that sort of thing interesting, though it seemed to me that in a few cases "made by women" was a bit of a stretch (Fleetwood Mac?). But as I was reading along I was astonished to find the assertion that in 1992 Tori Amos was writing about "typically taboo topics including but not limited to sex, religion and sexism. " What?!? How can anyone seriously assert that in 1992 any of those topics were "taboo"? I guess some people still get a thrill out of thinking that there's something courageous about saying things that might have been shocking in 1960 but have long since ceased to be so. It's a pretty cheap thrill, though.
Slightly related: in The Atlantic, James Parker has an account of visiting a San Francisco museum exhibit called "The Summer of Love Experience." He notes a striking omission:
...Where are the drugs? Their symptoms and sequelae are everywhere, of course, splattered wall-to-wall and chiming from the overhead speakers. But where, in this “Summer of Love Experience,” is LSD itself? Because—not to be too drearily materialistic about it—without that, none of this. Without the willing deliverance of an entire generation to artificially induced mental blowout, to swiftly sacramentalized psychic disruption/expansion, no Jefferson Airplane posters. Indeed, no Jefferson Airplane. A 50-year retrospective might have been a good moment to confront this a little more squarely: The pop culture of the ’60s, with all its ideological ramifications and projections, was a by-product of the drugs.
I don't think that last sentence is quite accurate. Some sort of culturally revolutionary youth movement would have happened without the drugs. I'd put it this way: the movement as it actually happened was inseparable from the drugs.
The view from behind a rest stop somewhere on Interstate 81 in central or western Virginia. I could stand to live among those big rolling hills and their vast green fields and pastures.
I could stand to live in a great many places that I've visited, actually, and probably a great many that I haven't. What a great variety of rich beauty the world offers us!